Intentional communities (19 collections) SCUA

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Avakian, Arlene Voski

Arlene Voski Avakian Papers, 1974-2010.

14 boxes (21 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 150
Arlene Avakian
Arlene Avakian

Arlene Avakian arrived at UMass in 1972 as a graduate student working on the social history of American women, but quickly became a key figure in the creation of the university’s new program in Women’s Studies. As she completed her MA in History (1975) and EdD (1985), she helped in the early organization of the program, later joining the faculty as professor and program director. Through her research and teaching, she contributed to an engaging departmental culture in which the intersection of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality were placed at the center, building the program over the course of 35 years into the nationally-recognized Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Avakian has written and taught on topics ranging from the lives and experiences of Armenian American and African American women to culinary history and the construction of whiteness. She retired in May 2011.

Documenting the growth and development of Women’s Studies at UMass Amherst, the collection includes valuable material on the creation of the department (and Women’s Studies more generally), second- and third-wave feminism, and Avakian’s teaching and research. The collection includes a range of correspondence, memoranda, notes, and drafts of articles, along with several dozen oral historical interviews with Armenian American women. Also noteworthy is the extensive documentation of ABODES, the Amherst Based Organization to Develop Equitable Shelter, which established the Pomeroy Lane Cooperative Housing Community in South Amherst in 1994.

Subjects

  • ABODES
  • Armenian American women
  • Cornell University. Program in Female Studies
  • Feminism
  • Housing, Cooperative
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Zoryan Institute

Contributors

  • Avakian, Arlene Voski

Types of material

  • Audio recordings

Baker, James

James Baker Free Spirit Press Collection, 1969-2005 (Bulk: 1969-1974).

3 boxes (1.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 834
Spirit in Flesh tour bus
Spirit in Flesh tour bus

James Baker was a member of the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune (later the Renaissance Community) in the early 1970s, and a key contributor to the Free Spirit Press, the commune’s publishing operation. Part promotion, information, and entertainment, the Free Spirit Press magazine ran for four issues in the winter and spring 1972-1973.

The Baker collection consists of the surviving materials from the production of Free Spirit Press concentrated heavily in the period between winter 1972 and summer 1974. Accumulated mostly while preparing a brochure for the commune, the manuscript material contains copies of the commune’s by-laws and membership rolls, comments from community members on how they wished to be represented, and a story board for the brochure and series of quotes from community members to be included. The second half of the collection contains hundreds of images, mostly 35mm negatives, taken of or by the commune and its residents. The images depict the production and distribution of Free Spirit Press and the commune band (Spirit in Flesh, later called Rapunzel), but they also include several rolls of film taken by commune members of major rock and roll acts of the era, including the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, Santana, Chuck Berry, Hot Tuna, and Fleetwood Mac.

Subjects

  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Metelica, Michael
  • Renaissance Community

Contributors

  • Geisler, Bruce

Types of material

  • Photographs

Brotherhood of the Spirit

Brotherhood of the Spirit Documentary, ca.1973.

15.24 minutes
Call no.: Video

Beginning in a treehouse in Leyden, Mass., during the summer of 1968, the Brotherhood of the Spirit (later the Renaissance Community) grew to become the largest commune in the eastern United States. Founded by Michael Metelica and six friends, and infused with the spiritual teachings of Elwood Babbitt, the commune relocated several times during its first half decade, setting down at different points in Heath, Charlemont, Warwick, Turners Falls, and Gill, Mass., as well as Guilford, Vt.

Produced at UMass Amherst, this video (digitized from a 16mm motion picture original) provides a largely laudatory glimpse of commune life during the boom years of the Brotherhood of the Spirit, probably around 1973. Sound quality in the video is highly uneven, often poor, particularly in the first two minutes.

Subjects

  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Metelica, Michael

Types of material

  • Motion pictures (Visual works)

Brown, Daniel A.

Daniel A. Brown Photograph Collection, 1968-2003.

ca.450 items
Call no.: PH 011
Meditation on Blueberry Hill, 1971. Photo by Gary Cohen
Meditation on Blueberry Hill, 1971. Photo by Gary Cohen

Having joined the the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune in 1973, Dan Brown remained a member for a decade as it evolved first into Metelica’s Aquarian Concept and then into the Renaissance Community. Throughout his time as a member, he photographed his fellow communards as they moved through a variety of localities, including Turner’s Falls, Gill, and Warwick, Mass. Since leaving the community in 1983, he has written and lectured regularly on its history for audiences throughout the region.

One of the principle photographers of the Brotherhood and Renaissance Community during the period 1973-1983, Brown preserved an archive of approximately 450 photographs documenting the commune from its founding in 1968 through the time of Michael Metelica’s death in 2003. In addition to his own work, he collected and preserved images of many other photographers, most notably Gary Cohen.

Subjects

  • Babbitt, Elwood, 1922-
  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Metelica, Michael

Contributors

  • Brown, Daniel A
  • Cohen, Gary

Types of material

  • Photographs

Dalsimer, Susan

Susan Dalsimer Papers, 1969-1970.

1 box (0.25 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 578
Steve Diamond, Ray Mungo, and Susan Dalsimer, ca.1969
Steve Diamond, Ray Mungo, and Susan Dalsimer, ca.1969

Famous Long Ago launched the literary career of Raymond Mungo with a splash, but even before the book had reached the shelves, he turned to his next project. In October 1969, Mungo began planning for a memoir of his life at the Packer Corners commune. Soon entitled Total Loss Farm, the book would become a classic in the literature of the 1960s counterculture. Signing a contract in November with E.P. Dutton, he worked with a young and sympathetic editor, Susan Stern (later Susan Dalsimer).

This small, but rich collection consists of a series of letters between Raymond Mungo and his editor at E.P. Dutton, Susan Stern, regarding his ideas on writing and life. Beginning in October 1969 with editorial commentary on Famous Long Ago and Mungo’s additions, the Dalsimer Papers offer insight into the development of Total Loss Farm from concept to printed page.

Subjects

  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Diamond, Stephen
  • McLardy, Peter
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Mungo, Raymond, 1946- . Famous Long Ago
  • Mungo, Raymond, 1946- . Total Loss Farm
  • Nineteen Sixties
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Simon, Peter, 1947-

Contributors

  • Dalsimer, Susan
  • Mungo, Raymond, 1946-

Types of material

  • Photographs

Diamond, Stephen

Steve Diamond Papers, 1968-2005.

13 boxes (6 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 542
Steve Diamond and border collie at Montague Farm, ca.1980
Steve Diamond and border collie at Montague Farm, ca.1980

An author and activist, Steve Diamond worked for the newly formed Liberation News Service in 1968 covering stories like the student strike at Columbia University. After more than a year of internal strife resulting from ideological differences, the alternative news service split into two factions, with Marshall Bloom and Raymond Mungo leading a new division of LNS in rural New England. Diamond, among those who left for New England, settled into life in a commune on old Ripley Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. His experiences during the first year on the farm are recorded in his book, What the Trees Said. Diamond later worked as a writer and consultant for Green Mountain Post Films, editor of the Valley Advocate and Boston Phoenix, and as a contributor for The Atlantic Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice.

This collection consists chiefly of Diamond’s correspondence and writing, including drafts of his stories and articles, research notes, and diary entries. The collection also contains printed articles by and about Diamond, digital images, and audio recordings.

Subjects

  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Bloom, Marshall, 1944-1969
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Liberation News Service (Montague, Mass.)
  • Liberation News Service (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mungo, Raymond, 1946-

Contributors

  • Diamond, Stephen

Famous Long Ago Archive

Famous Long Ago Collection, ca.1960-2005.

The barn, Montague Farm Photo by Roy Finestone, Oct. 1976
The barn, Montague Farm Photo by Roy Finestone, Oct. 1976

Ray Mungo’s Famous Long Ago (1970) and Steve Diamond’s What the Trees Said (1971) are classic visions of late 1960s counterculture and of life in New England communes. The communes on which Mungo and Diamond settled, Packer Corner and the Montague Farm, became the center of what might be considered a single extended community, embracing the Wendell Farm and Johnson Pasture and Tree Frog Farm in Vermont. The Farmers themselves were, and remain, a diverse group, including photographers, novelists, and poets, artists, actors, and activists.

An umbrella collection, the Famous Long Ago Archive contains a growing number of collections relating to the communes at Montague Farm, Packer Corners, Johnson Pasture, Wendell Farm, and Tree Frog Farm. These range from the papers of Steve Diamond, Raymond Mungo, and Jonathan Maslow to Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner (the latter of whom lived at Montague Farm), the records of the Liberation News Service, the Alternative Energy Coalition, and Musicians United for Safe Energy, to the photographic collections of Roy Finestone and Stephen Josephs. View all the Famous Long Ago Collections.

Subjects

  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Packer Corners Community (Vt.)
  • Political activists--Massachusetts

Finestone, Roy

Roy Finestone Photograph Collection, 1969-1990.

239 images
Call no.: PH 005
Nina, Smoky, Chuck, Janis (Smoky and Nina on bikes)
Nina, Smoky, Chuck, Janis (Smoky and Nina on bikes)

A wave of experimentation in communal living in New England reached a peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with dozens of communities spread across the landscape of western Massachusetts and Vermont. Nina Finestone joined the Johnson Pastures in Guilford , Vermont, in 1969, however after the main house there went up in flames on April 16, 1970, killing four people, she joined a number of its residents who moved to the nearby Montague Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. Nina married a fellow Montague farmer, Daniel Keller, and the couple moved to Wendell in 1980.

Providing exceptional visual documentation of life at Johnson Pasture, the Montague Farm, and Wendell Farm between 1969 and 1990, the Finestone collection is centered on the lives and family of Daniel and Nina Keller. All images were taken by Roy Finestone, Nina’s father, with a medium format camera using color transparency film.

Subjects

  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Communal living--Vermont
  • Johnson Pasture Community (Vt.)
  • Keller, Daniel
  • Keller, Nina
  • Montague Farm Community (Mass.)
  • Wendell Farm Community (Mass.)

Contributors

  • Finestone, Roy

Foster, Georgana

Georgana Foster Collection, 1970s-2007.

3 boxes (4.5 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 544

Collection of chiefly newspaper clippings compiled by Georgana Foster documenting the response of the western Massachusetts community to a variety of local and national topics such as the Vietnam War, communes, the re-elections of Congressmen Silvio Conte and John Olver, the Amherst Peace Vigil, the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, and the Iraq War.

Subjects

  • Activists--Massachusetts
  • Amherst (Mass.)--Politics and government
  • Conte, Silvio O. (Silvio Oltavio), 1921-1991
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Contributors

  • Foster, Georgana

Geisler, Bruce

Bruce Geisler Collection, 1969-1984.

14 boxes (21 linear feet).
Call no.: PH 049
Renaissance Community, ca.1974
Renaissance Community, ca.1974

In the early 1970s, the documentary filmmaker Bruce Geisler dropped out of Pomona College one semester short of graduation, drove across country, and joined the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune, then the largest commune in the eastern United States. During his four years living with the Brotherhood, later renamed the Renaissance Community, Geisler learned the craft of filmmaking, before returning west to earn an MFA at the film school of the University of Southern California. Geisler has received a number of awards as a screenwriter and filmmaker including the Grand Prize for Best Screenplay from Worldfest Houston and the Dominique Dunne Memorial Prize for Filmmaking, and, in 2007, he released his feature-length documentary, Free Spirits, about the Brotherhood of the Spirit/Renaissance Community and its ill-fated founder, Michael Metelica Rapunzel. Geisler is currently a Senior Lecturer in the UMass Amherst Department of Communication.

A collection collection documenting everyday life in the commune and performances by the commune band (Spirit in Flesh and Rapunzel), the Geisler collection was assembled largely during the making of Free Spirits. In addition to many hours of raw and edited footage taken by members of the Brotherhood of the Spirit and Renaissance Community, the collection includes approximately 1.5 feet each of ephemera and newspaper clippings relating to the commune.

Subjects

  • Brotherhood of the Spirit
  • Communal living--Massachusetts
  • Renaissance Community

Contributors

  • Geisler, Bruce

Types of material

  • Photographs
  • Videotapes
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